Ukraine unleashed an offensive to dislodge militants from cities in theeastern Donetsk region as authorities in the capital Kiev said Russian special forces were identified among the anti-government groups.
From four to 11 militants were killed and two wounded when Ukrainian troops stormed an airfield in Kramatorsk, taking it under control, Russian state television reported. Ukrainian units backed by armored personnel carriers blocked all approaches to the town of Slovyansk, the Russian state news service RIA Novosti said, citing a pro-Russian activist. Elements ofRussia’s 45th Airborne Regiment were spotted in both towns, Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Vitali Yarema said on Channel 5.
The government in Kiev is taking the battle to the restive east of the country after armed pro-Russian activists occupied administrative buildings in cities including Donetsk, a regional center about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Russian border. An attempt to head off the mounting insurgency may escalate tensions with Russia, which warned of a potential civil war. NATO says Russia has 40,000 troops massed on Ukraine’s border after its annexation of Crimea last month.
“The aim of these actions is to protect people,” acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a statement on his website. “Apart from Russian special forces and terrorists, there’s hundreds of thousands of innocent Ukrainian people deceived by Russian propaganda, and that is why we will take any needed anti-terrorist actions prudently and responsibly.”
This article also mentions the prospect of increased sanctions imposed against Russia by the USA and Europe. Hopefully, this is correct as tough sanctions would increase the pressure on Putin. However, I am far from convinced that US and European sanctions will be more than tokenism. If so, the longer-term costs of economic and political inaction will surely be more expensive.
This additional report from Bloomberg is most welcome: Distortion Is Ukraine’s True Human-Rights Threat, UN Says.Back to top